By Mónica Delgado
In certain performances by Ojoboca (a duo formed by Anja Dornieden and Juan David González Monroy), a certain motif is recognized which appears in some of their short films: the urgency of fables or the construction of fictitious tales, but supported in scientific or historic arguments. Like in The Hot and the Cold (2018), where the artists and filmmakers expose a narration to give context to what we see (juxtaposed images of nature, specially from two 16mm projectors) and where we access the universe of phantasmagoria and playful games of the magic lantern, in hand with the story of professor I.B.D. Naheseer, who, inspired in the invention of Étienne-Gaspard Robert, used the tardigrade, an microscopic animal who survives in extreme conditions, as a metaphor for life and dead, or as a simile of an artifact which reproduces light and darkness. Or, like the introduction via instructions in the projections of Comfort Stations (2018), which somehow dictates, like a manual of instructions of past century, how the spectator must interact with the film.
There’s a lot of that in Her Name was Europa, a long feature which explores, through a fake documentary, a thesis about the extinction of the Eurasian Auroch, a sort of mythical bull, which is described with a sense of humor that doesn’t sacrifice its scientific and theoretical rigor.
Premiering at Forum Expanded in Berlinale, Her Name was Europa, recovers a bestiary and a amiable and close narration, from the point of view of the filmmakers (or who seem to be the filmmakers) who lucubrate an analogy of a species in extinction, to compare it to an idiosyncrasy that also seems extinct. Engravings of photograph from the last century, extracts of scientific books, and a following of the task of geneticists and artists, who find in the extinct Auroch the possibility of a new dawn.
Filmmed in a black and white grainy 16mm film, and with a stylized sound style, Her Name was Europa poses and exercise in analysis about the necessity of artifice in every sense. In one side, the capacity of fabulation of Ojoboca themselves, through this tale of fantastic ascendance about an animal which doesn’t exist anymore and takes the name of an already gone continent in its nature and identity, and in the other, a very well made satire about this Europe which tries too hard to stop being itself, or dreams about these instant clones of comfort and luxury, something very well described in the sequence about a summer dome as a sun and beach Disney in the middle of a cold German region.
Her Name was Europa ratifies the talent of Ojoboca, who through more than ten years of work in visual arts, have found a very particular trademark, from a satirical and playful inventiveness, not abandoning their solemnity, and still talking about topics like resistance and the potency of life, that finds a way no matter what.
Direction, camera and script: Anja Dornieden y Juan David González Monroy
Produced by: Ojoboca
Germany, 2020, 76 min